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that it is vicious, and that the stanzas are blots in the · Faery Queen '?
By this the northern wagoner had set
Book I, Can. 2, St. 2.
ayre: Which when the wakeful elfe perceived, streight
way He started up, and did him selfe prepayre In sun-bright armes and battailous array; For with that pagan proud he combat will that day.
Book I, Can. 5, St. 2. On the contrary to how many passages, both in hymn books and in blank verse poems, could I (were it not invidious) direct the reader's attention, the style of which is most unpoetic, because, and only because, it is the style of prose? He will not suppose me capable of having in my mind such verses, as
I put my hat upon my head
To such specimens it would indeed be a fair and full reply, that these lines are not bad, because they are unpoetic ; but because they are empty of all sense and feeling; and that it were an idle attempt to prove that an ape is not a Newton, when it is evident that he is not a man. But the sense shall be good and weighty, the language correct and dignified, the subject interesting and treated with feeling; and yet the style shall, notwithstanding all these merits, be justly blamable as prosaic, and solely because the words and the order of the words would find their appropriate place in prose, but are not suitable to metrical composition. The Civil Wars of Daniel is an instructive, and even interesting work; but take the following stanzas (and from the hundred instances which abound I might probably have selected others far more striking):
And to the end we may with better ease
Ten kings had from the Norman conqu’ror reign'd
For first, the Norman, conqu’ring all by might,
Book I, St. vii, viii, and ix.
Will it be contended on the one side, that these lines are mean and senseless ? Or on the other, that they are not prosaic, and for that reason unpoetic ? This poet's well-merited epithet is that of the welllanguaged Daniel’; but likewise, and by the consent of his contemporaries no less than of all succeeding critics, the prosaic Daniel. Yet those, who thus designate this wise and amiable writer, from the frequent incorrespondency of his diction to his metre in the majority of his compositions, not only deem them valuable and interesting on other accounts; but willingly admit, that there are to be found throughout his poems, and especially in his Epistles and in his Hymen's Triumph, many and exquisite specimens of that style which, as the neutral ground of prose and verse, is common to both. A fine and almost faultless extract, eminent, as for other beauties, so for its perfection in these species of diction, may be seen in LAMB's Dramatic Specimens, &c., a work of various interest from the nature of the selections themselves, (all from the plays of Shakespeare's contemporaries), and deriving a high additional value from the notes, which are full of just and original criticism, expressed with all the freshness of originality.
Among the possible effects of practical adherence to a theory, that aims to identify the style of prose and verse,-(if it does not indeed claim for the latter a yet nearer resemblance to the average style of men in the vivâ voce intercourse of real life)—we might anticipate the following as not the least likely to occur. It will happen, as I have indeed before observed, that the metre itself, the sole acknowledged difference, will occasionally become metre to the eye only. The existence of prosaisms, and that they detract from the merit of a poem, must at length be conceded, when a number of successive lines can be rendered, even to the most delicate ear, unrecognizable as verse, or as having even been intended for verse, by simply transcribing them as prose; when if the poem be in blank verse, this can be effected without any alteration, or at most by merely restoring one or two words to their proper places, from which they have been transplanted1 for no assignable
1 As the ingenious gentleman under the influence of the Tragic Muse contrived to dislocate, I wish you a good morning, Sir! Thank you, Sir, and I wish you the same,' into two blankverse heroics :
To you a good morning, good Sir! I wish.
You, Sir! I thank : to you the same wish I. In those parts of Mr. Wordsworth's works which I have thoroughly studied, I find fewer instances in which this would be practicable than I have met in many poems, where an approximation of prose has been sedulously and on system guarded against. Indeed excepting the stanzas already quoted from The Sailor's MOTHER', I can recollect but one instance: viz. a short passage of four or five lines in The BROTHERS', that model of English pastoral, which I never yet read with unclouded eye. — James, pointing to its summit, over which they had all purposed to return together, informed them that he would wait for them there. They parted, and his comrades passed that way some two hours after, but they did not find him at the appointed place, a circumstance of which they took no heed : but one of them, going by chance into the house, which at this time was James's house, learnt there, that nobody had seen him all that day.' The only change which
calculation whitterly at then he may cho
cause or reason but that of the author's convenience; but if it be in rhyme, by the mere exchange of the final word of each line for some other of the same meaning, equally appropriate, dignified and euphonic.
The answer or objection in the preface to the anticipated remark that metre paves the way to other distinctions', is contained in the following words. The distinction of rhyme and metre is voluntary and uniform, and not, like that produced by (what is called) poetic diction, arbitrary, and subject to infinite caprices, upon which no calculation whatever can be made. In the one case the reader is utterly at the mercy of the poet respecting what imagery or diction he may choose to connect with the passion. But is this a poet, of whom a poet is speaking ? No surely! rather of a fool or madman: or at best of a vain or ignorant phantast! And might not brains so wild and so deficient make just the same havock with rhymes and metres, as they are supposed to effect with modes and figures of speech? How is the reader at the mercy of such men? If he continue to read their nonsense, is it not his own fault? The ultimate end of criticism is much more to establish the principles of writing, than to furnish rules how to pass judgement on what
has been made is in the position of the little word there in two instances, the position in the original being clearly such as is not adopted in ordinary conversation. The other words printed in italics were so marked because, though good and genuine English, they are not the phraseology of common conversation either in the word put in apposition, or in the connexion by the genitive pronoun. Men in general would have said, “but that was a circumstance they paid no attention to, or took no notice of ;' and the language is, on the theory of the preface, justified only by the narrator's being the Vicar. Yet if any ear could suspect, that these sentences were ever printed as metre, on those very words alone could the suspicion have been grounded.